How climate change threatens human rights in various sectors of Tanzania: Report

Right to food, health, education, access to clean and safe water, decent environment, privacy and family affected 

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Tuesday 23 May 2023
Photo: iStock

Climate change directly contributes to the violation of human rights in many different ways — from droughts to floods that lead to loss of shelter, food shortages and breakdown of critical infrastructure, including schools and health facilities, increased human and animal diseases and disruption of habitats and critical ecosystems services that underpin survival, wellbeing and enjoyment of life. 

Tanzania is the 45th most vulnerable country to climate change among 182 assessed in the ND-GAIN Country index and the 58th least prepared to leverage investments to adaptation actions among 192 assessed. 

The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), a human rights advocacy organisation, commissioned Climate Action Network, Tanzania to lead a mini study on climate change and its impacts on human rights in Tanzania.

On May 18, 2023, LHRC launched its first study report on Impacts of Climate Change on Social Economic and Environmental Rights in Tanzania

The report focused on climate change impacts on human rights in four key sectors: Agriculture, fisheries, livestock and settlement.

The study was conducted in 20 villages, 10 districts and six regions — Mwanza, Kagera, Manyara, Dodoma, Mbeya and Coast — from July-November 2022.

Data was collected from 360 stakeholders comprising community representatives (farmers, fisher-folks, pastoralists), village and ward governments as well as policy / decision-makers at district, regional and national levels.


A total of 77.6 per cent of farmers in the study regions, Dodoma and Manyara, reported decreasing trends in productivity as a result of recent and recurrent droughts.

Fundamental human rights related to agriculture have been severely affected. These include rights related to reduced food security, reduced access to water, increased health risks and reduced life prosperity, all of which threaten the very survival and prosperity of humanity.


Fishermen in study areas noted reduction in fisheries production over the years, disappearance and / or vulnerability of fish species due to increased aquaculture diseases and unpredictable rainfall. 

Fisherman in Ukerewe, Bagamoyo and Mafia reported that some species such as herring, mackerel, capelin, blue whiting, sprat, anchovy and sardine have shifted away from shallow coastal waters and semi-enclosed areas into deeper waters, a fact which has heightened the difficulty of getting the once easily appropriable fish catch.


According to the respondents, the most prominent climate change features threatening settlement in study areas included rising sea / lake water levels in the coast and lake zone regions, impacts on water resources, extreme weather events like droughts in Manyara, Dodoma and Coast region, food insecurity, increased health risks from vector-borne diseases and extreme heat / hot days, especially in the Manyara region. 

Fundamental human rights related to the settlement sector have been hugely affected. Respondents rated the impacts in percentage as follows:

  • Food security — 79 per cent 
  • Education disruption (breaking of infrastructure-roads and building from flooding) — 49.3 per cent 
  • Disruption of health services (due to destructed services and increased number of causalities) — 35.5 per cent


Pastoralists in the study areas reported consistent declines in rainfall volume, delayed onset, erratic and cessation of rainfall, among other patterns.

Respondents from all study areas, particularly Manyara, admitted that frequent droughts have led to severe economic impacts associated with poor livestock markets, noting that the price of cattle has continued to decline due to poor health conditions of animals. 

Pastoralists pointed to a number of human rights related aspects that have been affected by climate change from their livelihoods, poverty reduction and sustainable development aspirations. 

These include rights to food security, economic growth, water security and sanitation, right to quality health and life assurance as well as right to standard of living.

The rights that were seen to be affected by climate change include social rights such as the right to food, the right to health, the right to education, the right to access to clean and safe water, the right to live in a decent environment, the right to privacy and family, LHRC Executive Director Anna Henga said during the launch. 

The study provided recommendations for better interventions to advocate for improved socio-economic and environmental justice in Tanzania.

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